Historian’s Afterword provides thought-provoking conclusion to controversial book

Posted: July 21, 2014 in The Orphan Conspiracies
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Reader response to the Afterword in our book THE ORPHAN CONSPIRACIES: 29 Conspiracy Theories from The Orphan Trilogy has prompted us to run it here, in full, in the hope it will prompt further enlightened thought and debate. 

Penned by American author and Professor of History at the University of Idaho, Dr. Richard (Rick) Spence, the Afterword provides a thought-provoking conclusion to our book. 

Richard B Spence

Historian Dr. Richard Spence 

Dr. Spence is well qualified to comment on conspiracy theories. At the University of Idaho, where he has taught since 1986, he specializes in Russian, intelligence and military history, and his course offerings include Modern Espionage, Anti-Semitism and the Holocaust, History of Secret Societies and the Occult in History.

Here’s Dr. Spence’s Afterword (unabridged): 

Someone, I honestly can’t recall who, once told me an apocryphal anecdote which is a kind of epilogue to the biblical tale of the Garden of Eden and the Fall of Man. According to this, upon seeing Adam and Eve driven from paradise, the agent of their ruin, the Serpent, aka the Devil, was moved to pity. Or so he claimed. He asked God if he might bestow upon these pitiful creatures a gift which would make their mortal suffering and that of their descendants a little easier to bear. The Lord consented, and so the Serpent granted humankind the “blessing” of self-delusion: the inability to see themselves, the world or their state as they really were. The trick, of course, is that neither would they be able to see God or the Devil for what they really were either. 

The Eden saga is also relevant because, if taken literally, it can be interpreted as the Ur-Conspiracy against the human race. Basically, Adam and Eve got the boot because they dared to acquire forbidden knowledge and, if not stopped, might have achieved the ultimate prize of eternal life. It was that which prompted God—or Gods since the divine conversation is always in terms of “we”—to nip things in the bud lest the upstart creations become “like us.” It’s enough to make one wonder just whose side the Serpent was on. Or could it be that the Serpent was just God in disguise? Maybe we’ve been in the dark from the beginning. 

Mythology, heresy or whatever, I’ve often thought the “Devil’s Gift” story explained the human condition pretty well. Whether the Serpent is to be blamed or thanked, the simple fact is that we do possess a tremendous capacity for deluding ourselves—and others. A prime example is the multitude of “conspiracy theories” James and Lance Morcan have presented in this book, theories that range, arguably, from the patently absurd to the disturbingly plausible. Notice that I’m not making a distinction as to which are which or who is deluding who. That’s up to you. 

For some years now I’ve offered a course at my university titled “Conspiracies and Secret Societies in History.” Its basic goal, much like this book, is neither to advocate nor debunk, but to make people aware of what ideas and groups exist (or have existed) and what facts there may be to support or refute them. I’ve sometimes described it as a course in modern heresy or even in the nature of reality. A key theme is that human history, behavior and reality are governed not by what we know but by what we believe. Here’s a simple example: we all have fathers and most of us know who our fathers are. Or we believe we do. Ultimately both we and our fathers are taking our mother’s word for it, which doesn’t exclude the possibility that even she is mistaken. Ah, you say, but what about DNA tests? That supposes such tests actually prove what they claim which is yet another thing you must take on faith. I’m going to guess that you’ve not had a DNA test, nor do you see any reason why you should. That’s doubtless a sound belief, but nevertheless a belief that in a small number of cases is dead wrong. Paternity is almost always an assumption, not a fact. That’s an unsettling thing to consider, so maybe it is best ignored. Just like so many bigger, unsettling possibilities mentioned in The Orphan Conspiracies. 

The authors make frequent reference to the “Tinfoil Hat Network,” which is a convenient name for those folks who believe in things that presumably more rational minds find, well, nutty. However intrinsically loony an idea may be, when people believe it, and act on that belief, it attains a power that can shape reality around it. A simple case in point is Nazi anti-Semitism. The fringe and utterly bogus notion that Jews represented a kind of biological contamination that had to be eradicated root and branch became the operative philosophy of a political regime and as a result millions of people died. Maybe the most dangerous thing about the “Illuminati” isn’t that such a master cabal has ever existed, but that some people believe it should and wreak havoc under the delusion they run the world. Likewise, something discussed extensively in this book, Jim Jones and Jonestown, was, at the very least, a case of people believing so much in a crackpot messiah that they were willing to kill themselves, and often their children, on his command. And, remember, that’s the least of the horror stories that can be built around the Jonestown massacre. The alternatives are even more disturbing. 

So how can we determine what’s real and what’s not? We can’t. We can just pick and choose what we want to believe and rationalize it as best we can. Reality, after all, is basically a movie projected inside our heads. It’s based on the colors our senses permit us to see, the sounds they permit us to hear and whatever else our brains let slip through the gates. But outside our limited senses, surrounding us, there is, unquestionably, a much greater reality, a universe we live in but cannot see. Well, most of us, anyway. Out there, in the dark, All Things Are Possible.

An author in his own right, Dr. Spence’s published works include Boris Savinkov: Renegade on the Left (East European Monographs/Columbia Univ. Press, 1991), Trust No One: The Secret World of Sidney Reilly (Feral House, 2002) and Secret Agent 666: Aleister Crowley, British Intelligence and the Occult (Feral House, 2008).

Product DetailsProduct DetailsProduct Details

Some of the books by Dr. Richard Spence.

Dr. Spence is also the author of numerous articles in Revolutionary Russia, Intelligence and National Security, International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence, The Historian, New Dawn and other publications. He has served as a commentator/consultant for the History Channel and the International Spy Museum and was a key consultant-interviewee for the Russian Cultural Foundation’s 2007 documentary film, “Leon Trotsky: The Secret of World Revolution,” and its subsequent “Trap for the Tsar.”

Read more in The Orphan Conspiracies: 29 Conspiracy Theories from The Orphan Trilogy – available now via Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/The-Orphan-Conspiracies-Conspiracy-Theories-ebook/dp/B00J4MPFT6/

Conspiracies

 Out there in the dark, all things are possible!

 

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